The anatomy of a photo

So onto week three of my quest to make interesting photos for myself. This week I was going to tackle asparagus and dirt. I tried Asparagus for a few minutes (I may come back tomorrow), but nothing immediately cool came to mind. I had a few ideas, but they didn’t quite pan out, so I shelved it. Onto dirt!
When I think of dirt, I think of death, or mud, or worms. Immediately, the old black plague children’s rhyme came to mind. “ashes to ashes, we all fall down”.
So my theme was death, and perhaps rebirth, since I’ve had my fair share of sadness and death recently, I didn’t want to get too gloomy.
I knew what I wanted, now it’s time to implement! I went with a full frame camera, and shot at 50mm first.

Here are my test shots at 50mm.
test shots

test shots

It kind of had the look that I was going for, but I wanted to get a bit closer, and the lens didn’t allow for that. Since that lens has a minimal focal distance of about 6 inches or so, I didn’t get as close as I would like. So I switched to my Carl Zeiss 28mm which I knew allowed me to get close. I took a few test shots.
Since it is a purely manual focus lens, I knew it was going to be difficult to focus since my other hand was obviously occupied holding the dirt. I set the focus for closest setting and moved my body back and forth to do the focusing.

test shots

But something about it didn’t do it for me. The result was too wide, which shows too much of the wooden pot. I don’t want that to be the focus and it would be too distracting. So I went to my chest of goodies and picked out the one lens that I knew would most likely do it. 35mm 1.4

test shots

I know it can focus pretty close, and after a few test shots, I knew this was the right one to use.
Here’s my final shot that I chose for ‘dirt’ straight out of the camera. No processing at all.


Since I always shoot raw, the photos come out very neutral and bland. The intent is it is up to the person who post processes to add any additional colors, tones or contrast. So I add my basic tone, and my favorite the vignette (darken edges) to lure the eye towards the subject.


This probably works best, since the flower doesn’t over power the dirt, and I shot this in front of a wooden flower pot to give the over all photo a natural brown tone.

Then I decided perhaps I try doing a two tone sepia print. The theory behind black and white, is in the absence of distractions, such as color. The subject stands out.

But after some consideration, I realize that it ruins my intent, which is to show dirt. But the flower is washed out, so you don’t get the subtle theme of rebirth.
So I experimented with the cliche of isolating a color. Yes, I’m aware this has been over-done to death by many photographers, but I find some people still like it. And after all, this is ‘MY’ personal project so I really could care less what anyone thinks.


After some consideration, I decided, despite my protest of not caring what everyone things, lol, I do in fact care. That and I’ve done this before already many times in the past. Highly not interesting, so I moved on to something more avante-garde. Just throw out the colors, add blue tones, desaturate the colors and up the contrast till the cows come home.


The final result was pleasing to me, and it’s a contender to be the de-facto photo representing ‘dirt’ in this project. It’s a close call between that and the original standard color one. But I think the edge goes out to the last one, simply because it stands out some. Who knows, maybe that type of processing is over-played. Honestly, I like them both!


About greenbeanfx

Photography is what I do =) If you wish to contact for a photoshoot, send me an email or comment on a blog with your info and I'll get back

Posted on December 12, 2010, in Aperature and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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